In Praise of Challenging Academics - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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October 19, 2017

In Praise of Challenging Academics

I remember walking into my first class as a freshman; I was excited but also very nervous because I did not know what to expect. I would describe my outlook as cautiously confident. I felt good about what I would be able to do, but I also knew that there would be some challenges along the way that could surprise me and that I would have to work through.

After the first few weeks, I felt good about where things were headed. I turned in my first large assignment — a paper for my first class — which made me feel even better. I was confident in what I wrote, and I believed I would receive a high score on the assignment.

The following week (while the papers were being graded) I took a test for a different class and did poorly. I was upset because I thought I had studied enough. The next day, the graded papers were handed back.

I received a 75%.

As someone who overthinks a lot and gets overly stressed out, I outdid myself in those qualities walking back to my dorm after seeing my grade on that paper. Doing poorly on the test was one thing, but I was excited to get the paper back and redeem myself with a high score because I was sure I did well.

I got back to my dorm and sat at my desk thinking about my grades and my classes, maybe I wasn't college material. I started questioning myself.

What if I lose my scholarship? What if I don’t pass my classes? Will I have to drop out?

After talking with my dad, my friends and my professor over the next few days, I felt better and tried to put the paper behind me. My “cautious confidence” was not the same anymore; I was worried whenever I turned in a paper or took a test.

Over time, however, I saw my writing and study habits improve, and my confidence in my abilities gradually came back. For the rest of the semester, I saw my grades in all my classes improving as well. By December, I reflected on how ridiculous it was for me to overreact the way I did to my predicament. The academics were challenging, but they weren't impossible. And the more I worked at it, the better I got.

I realized it was an important experience for me, and I’m glad it happened. Had I received a great grade on that paper, I would have settled and kept writing the same way without pushing myself. Had I done well on the test after only studying for a minimal amount of time, I would have continued those habits, and eventually it would have caught up to me. In a college that focuses on Christian liberal arts, I was able to learn how to think and to be adaptable to many different contexts.

I’m sure I am not the only freshman to go through a confidence-shaking experience.  During any given academic career, most students will have ups and downs. But it doesn't have to break you; if you adjust and persevere, the experience can make you a better student. I faced the challenge of a Geneva education, and I'm better for it and ultimately more confident. Here's to challenging academics!

If you want to truly learn and not just know information, Geneva College is the place for you. Contact Admissions for more information, admissions@geneva.edu | 800.847.8255.

- Andrew Domencic ‘19